Amazingly, after ten years, I’ve returned to work two days a week. I’m back at my old office at Harvard Business School, working in the Annual Fund. This all happened so fast, but so far, so good. It’s a super office, with interesting people from a variety of backgrounds.
My husband jokes that my first paycheck has already been more than spent on wardrobe upgrades, but a girl can’t look dumpy on the job! This notion was confirmed when I stopped at Chipotle on my way home tonight, where I am a “regular” to pick up some dinner because I felt too tired to cook. The usual guy was behind the counter, and gave me a look of total surprise. “Wow!” he said, “You look so NICE! You’re always in your GYM CLOTHES!” I was taken aback, and it hit me right then and there that letting my yoga pants gather a little dust might be a good thing. Clearly, the man had dubbed me as either a PE teacher or a sweaty mom who never made time for a shower.
So far, there are two big takeaways that I wanted to share with my friends who might be considering going back to work in some capacity:
1. Starting is the hardest part! I’ve considered doing something like this for so long. It either hasn’t been the right fit in terms of the schedule, or just hasn’t felt right in my heart. I never could have imagined even two years ago that I would be excited to work. My husband jokes that I am a worst-case thinker, and he’s fairly on the mark. I had imagined so many negative scenarios around my kids if I worked that I had convinced myself it was simply out of the question. What if someone fell down on the playground and I was stuck in a meeting? What if someone forgot a bus note to go over to a friend’s house and I never even realized it until they took the bus home and I wasn’t here? Yes, even with just two days, I feel tired and as if I am juggling a bit, but it’s so worth it.
Which leads me to my next takeaway…
2. Suburban Motherhood is a microcosm and breaking out of it feels amazingly liberating! After just TWO days back at the office, I felt like a weight had been lifted and I had been freed from the tiny world I’ve been living in for ten years. Of course I love my town, my friends, and my children’s friends. I am incredibly grateful to have had the chance to stay home and raise my babies. Yet I’ll admit, I’ve often felt overwhelmed by small-town drama. Let’s face it: suburban women can be nasty and competitive towards one another. Conversations surrounding teacher placements and who just put on a huge addition get tiring. Small-town politics can be tough too. I recently shared my opinion about possibly not doing soccer try-outs for ten-tear old girls, only to be told by someone affiliated with the organization that I was slandering the program by expressing my views. It also feels healthy to be problem-solving in a capacity other than killing bees, breaking up sibling fights, unclogging toilets, and fishing change out of my dryer. It is refreshing to be in a new environment, where I can be known as Brooke the Fundraiser and not just Brooke, Mom of Three, who ran the PTO Art Fundraiser, coaches soccer, and has a husband on the school committee.
If you’re reading this, and have thought about working, what do you have to lose by trying it out? Being a mom will always be my top priority, but I’m learning that balance is possible and I don’t have to totally lose myself. Wherever your journey leads you, be true to yourself and do what feels right. Or, if you have no idea what you want to do, use your time at home to try out some different things. Over the past ten years, I’ve had my own sewing business, sold a skin care line, and most recently, represented Stella & Dot, a fabulous jewelry line. Don’t be afraid to dabble and see what feels right!